ISIL (ISIS, IS or Daesh) is an extremely violent and dangerous jihadist terror organization that seeks to establish an Islamic state in the region that encompasses much of Iraq and Syria.

The group is a splinter organization expelled from al-Qaeda in Iraq and has been actively fighting in Syria since the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War in 2011.

In 2014, ISIL began aggressive operations in Iraq, which further destabilized the region and allowed the group to occupy significant portions of northern Iraq, in addition to the territory it already held in Syria.

ISIL has committed widely publicized, gruesome killings of hostages and has claimed responsibility for terrorist attacks outside of Iraq and Syria, including attacks in Paris, Beirut, and Sinai in November 2015.

The increasing threat of this group called for an immediate international campaign to stop any further advances and dismantle ISIL.

Since August 2014, the United States and coalition forces have used combat aircraft, armed unmanned aerial vehicles (commonly known as drones), and sea-launched cruise missiles to conduct more than 8,500 strikes against ISIL targets in Iraq and Syria. These airstrikes are needed to roll back ISIS so local forces can reclaim and hold the territory as well as to protect ethnic and religious minorities and American diplomatic and military personnel.

In mid-September 2015, Congress authorized the President and provided funding to train and equip Iraqi, Kurdish, and Syrian fighters in the fight against ISIL.

Approximately 3,500 U.S. military personnel have been deployed to Iraq to conduct this training, gather intelligence on ISIL, and secure U.S. personnel and facilities. The bipartisan support and quick passage of these measures underscores the importance of immediate action against this terrorist group.

U.S. ground forces are not part of the strategy to combat ISIL, which ultimately must be resolved with a combination of local forces and a broader diplomatic solution to the Syrian Civil War. As such, we must seek all means of resolving this threat: politically, diplomatically, and militarily.

The War Powers Resolution mandates that the President consult with Congress in every possible instance prior to introducing U.S. armed forces into hostilities and regularly afterwards. Under this resolution, the President can only send troops into battle for 60 to 90 days unless Congress enacts either a declaration of war or an authorization for the use of force. Congress must discuss the involvement of troops overseas and enact a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) to continue operations against ISIL in Iraq and Syria.

In February, President Obama provided Congress with a draft proposal for a new AUMF against ISIL, replacing the 2002 AUMF originally designed for the war in Iraq. The President’s proposal would authorize the use of U.S. Armed Forces that he deems “necessary and appropriate” against the Islamic State and associated persons or forces. This authorization would terminate three years after enactment and would also repeal the 2002 AUMF. The President would be required to report to Congress at least every six months on actions taken under the proposed AUMF.

In June, Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia introduced the Authority for the Use of Military Force Against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Act (S. 1587). This bill would authorize the President to use the U.S. Armed Forces for three years against ISIL. This legislation was referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

As lead Democrat on the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, I will continue to provide the equipment and resources necessary to support our military. 

Photo: U.S. Senator Richard J. Durbin discussed global eduction for children with Malala Yousafzai, the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate, July 23, 2015.

U.S. Senator Richard J. Durbin, a Democrat from Springfield in Illinois, serves as the Assistant Democratic Leader, the second highest ranking position among the Senate Democrats. Also known as the Minority Whip, Senator Durbin has been elected to this leadership post by his Democratic colleagues every two years since 2005. Elected to the U.S. Senate on November 5, 1996, and re-elected in 2002, 2008, and 2014. Durbin sits on the Senate Judiciary, Appropriations, and Rules Committees. He is the Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution and the Appropriations Committee’s Defense subcommittee.